There are many negative thinking errors that we can choose to correct. First we need to indentify them and then discover a way to erase them. Here are some commonly held self-defeating thinking patterns that can be reversed.
I’m as happy as my most troubled/sad/anxious child/friend/relative. If your family or friends suffer (and whose doesn’t at times), then you will be continually and unnecessarily miserable if you hang on to this thinking pattern. Instead, say to yourself, “I choose to live in peace even though those I care about may not experience peace right now.”
I’m a failure. I can’t seem to do anything right. The truth is that all of make mistakes. Anyone who pretends to be perfect is a fraud. The next time you consider beating yourself up for being less than perfect, say to yourself, “Life gives me many opportunities to learn, and I am learning from my failures and my successes.”
My mistakes I’ve made in the past can’t be forgiven (or, I can’t forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made.) More families fracture, relationships end, and hearts break because we refuse to accept forgiveness or forgive ourselves. We worship a merciful God, who waits to transform us from saints to sinners. We need to continually remind ourselves, “God loves me perfectly and forgives me every time I repent. As I come unto Him, He will help me love myself so that I can love others more fully.”
I’m not as good/smart/beautiful/talented as others. Comparing ourselves when we’re at our worst with others when they’re at their best is self-defeating. Instead say, “I am an amazing, talented, precious person and so is everyone I meet. God can use me as an instrument to do His work on earth.”
It's my fault that someone did/said/behaved inappropriately. We gladly praise others for their successes but may sometimes feel responsible for the bad behavior of others. Whenever we attempt to control that which is outside our power to influence, we lose our peace of mind. Discovering what we can and cannot control in our lives is a huge step in living peacefully. We need to remember that we can control our own behavior but not the behavior of others. We can be a positive influence for good as we love ourselves and others, but we cannot change others.
We cannot depend on others to make us feel happy nor can we allow others’ choices to determine whether or not we are happy. We will experience serenity if we remember that God has given us unique and precious gifts which we can use to serve Him and others. Each one of us is unique and precious, and God must grieve when He sees His children live in blame, shame, and self-loathing.
Avoid black and white thinking, which reveals itself it words like “should have,” “could have” and “must.” Any time we think that we or others should not make mistakes, could improve even though we (or they) are giving our (or their) best effort, and must do things perfectly or according to our expectations, we will feel unhappy. Although life is not fair, we can find peace amid suffering as we allow ourselves to heal and allow others to do the same.
God wants us to remember that "though the mountains may crumble and the hills fall, [His]love for [us] shall never end." Through the power of His love, we can stop comparing ourselves to others and let go any thinking errors that may destroy of peace. Benjamin Franklin said, The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.”
Today, allow God to give you peace of mind as you choose thoughts of love and mercy for yourself and others and erase thoughts of despair, doubt, and disappointment.
© Carol Brown